Grid Legends' Story Features Live-Action Cutscenes To Better Tell The Devs' Vision, Says Director

Grid Legends story mode takes inspiration from the Drive to Survive TV series, telling a documentary-style narrative.

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Grid Legends is the next entry in the racing game franchise, and it's shifting into a new gear by introducing a story mode. Called Driven to Glory, this story mode sees you take on the role of Driver 22, an underdog trying to make it in the racing scene. Taking inspiration from Netflix's Drive to Survive, Driven to Glory plays out as a documentary-style narrative, incorporating live-action actors as opposed to animated characters.

"Story couldn't be in there as a token element," Grid Legends creative director Chris Smith said during a preview event. In order to ensure Grid Legends' story was worthwhile, developer Codemasters established early on that the game's narrative was one of the core pillars of the project.

"The story is the mode that we want everyone to play," Smith said. "Of course, we want you to play all the content, but we hope you first experience the story."

According to Smith, the story that the team created better fit live actors putting on a performance, so Codemasters used Extended Reality (xR) in the making of Grid Legends. A similar technology was used to film The Mandalorian--it allows creators to put live actors into virtual spaces.

"When we talked to a lot of companies about the story and we had tests back from motion capture and digital--one of the people that we talked to proposed live-action with this new technology," Smith said. "It was new technology that nobody had used before."

He continued: "They did some test shots for us and started talking to us and the early stuff just looked so good. And then we started casting and we ended up getting this amazing cast. We did look at animation but honestly the results from when we looked at live-action were better for telling the story we wanted to tell. And we wanted to tell a story that was worth telling. And I think you get that with real people."

Funny enough, the only character not physically present in Grid Legends' story is you. Driver 22 is not represented in Driven to Glory. They are referred to by the other characters in conversation but Driver 22 doesn't speak for themselves.

"Driver 22 doesn't speak," Smith said. "A game should be accessible to everyone. You're going to play it and think [the main character] is you. The second we start putting a name to the character and we have the character talk, then you have to consider gender--do you make them non-binary, male, or female? It starts excluding certain players and we're an inclusive game. Driver 22 was picked so that anyone playing this game can enjoy the game for what it is--an amazing racing game--but can also enjoy being in this story."

When asked how the nature of a racing game might impact the story, Smith said that it wouldn't. Codemasters didn't write the story around how races can have different outcomes--you won't get a different cutscene if you win your first race as opposed to placing second or coming in dead last, for example.

"It's a linear tale and we did that on purpose," Smith said. "It's meant to be as if they've recorded the whole season and they're playing back the moments of drama. You do still have objectives that you need to achieve during your races, but these objectives are themed around what's happening in the story. That way, we got to tell a more meaningful story."

Grid Legends is set to launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC on February 25, 2022--so yes, February 2022 is now even more packed. The game will bring back the Nemesis system from 2019's Grid, allowing you to forge rivalries with other players in multiplayer and AI-controlled characters in the story mode.

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